This performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto is one of unalloyed greatness. Vadim Repin feels no need to make ostentatious points in, say, the first movement’s jagged cadence theme, or at the opening of the finale. Instead his perfect intonation and astonishing technique at good, swift tempos make the music sing and flow effortlessly. Listen to his exquisite tone in double-stops, his emphatic but still dance-like rhythm in the finale, or his imposing first-movement cadenza. The bottom line is that there is absolutely nothing here to criticize. Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra deliver equally impressive accompaniments: the wind band introduction to the adagio is gorgeous, the interplay between soloist and orchestra the stuff of dreams.
The Double Concerto, that stepchild of Brahms pieces for soloists and orchestra, also ranks with the best available. It may be that the classic Szell/Oistrakh/Rostropovich performance launches the finale with a touch more zip, but you won’t hear the opening cadenzas played with more lyrical passion, or the andante spun out more affectingly. The soloists are placed a touch forward against the orchestra, but they can more than withstand the scrutiny within the context of warm, vivid engineering. This disc offers 72 minutes of Brahmsian joy. Don’t by any means miss it. [3/18/2009]